Guest blog – Shelter Box


ShelterBox – Sheltering families made homeless by disasters


Every year hundreds and thousands of communities across the world lose everything when disasters strike. Through no fault of their own and often with no warning, people lose their homes, their possessions and their livelihoods. Every day they are faced with a battle for survival and this is where ShelterBox comes in.


I am proud to work for this international disaster relief charity that provides emergency shelter and vital supplies to support communities around the world overwhelmed by disaster and humanitarian crisis.


Since ShelterBox began in 2000, it has responded to earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, landslides, typhoons and conflict, delivering emergency humanitarian aid to families in need on every continent.


From the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to the 2010 Haiti earthquake to the Syria crisis, ShelterBox has responded to some of the largest humanitarian crises the modern world has ever known. Alongside this, ShelterBox has also helped many thousands of people displaced by disasters that are not featured in the media. Simply put, if there is an unmet need for emergency shelter, we will do everything it can to meet it.

gutemala earthquake


We are currently responding to flooding in Niger, Sudan and Pakistan; conflict in the Philippines as well as the ongoing Syria conflict, bringing aid to displaced Syrian families in Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria itself. We have recently launched our Syria Refugee Appeal to raise awareness and funds enabling us to continue with our disaster relief work.

phillipines  tropical storm 2011


The ShelterBox solution in disaster response is as simple as it is effective. We deliver the essentials people need to survive in the aftermath of a disaster. Each large, green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, thermal blankets and groundsheets, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, a basic tool kit, mosquito nets and children’s activity pack. For colder countries, we deliver winterised boxes that include more blankets and groundsheets and a thermal liner that fits between the inner and outer layers of the tent insulating more heat.

what's in a box


How does ShelterBox do the work we do?


The ShelterBox Operations Team work around the clock continuously monitoring disasters enabling us to be in a position to respond rapidly, effectively and efficiently when disaster strikes. Every disaster is different, as such, so is every ShelterBox deployment. Sometimes we respond to disasters independently, other times it is on requests for assistance from other aid agencies or government authorities. The common thread is ensuring the response is as efficient as possible.


We have a multi-skilled logistics team who constantly work to overcome a range of logistical challenges. We always endeavor to deliver ShelterBox aid in the most effective way possible. This can be by road, sea, air or a mix of all three. Our ShelterBoxes are packed and dispatched from our headquarters in Cornwall, UK and can also call upon a stock of prepositioned boxes stored in strategic locations across the globe including Dubai, Singapore, Panama and Curacao to enable a rapid response.


The most important people to us are the families we help. We firmly believe that our work is never finished and we are committed to measuring and evaluation the impact our aid has.  In order to improve our work, it is essential that we listen to the needs of the people that we are helping. When it is suitable, we will send teams on post-deployment monitoring and evaluation programmes to assess how effective our aid is and to work with the beneficiaries to find out ways we can improve our equipment and service. The feedback we receive from the field is used to facilitate further research and development into ways we can improve the quality and effectiveness of the aid we deliver.




The strength of our enthusiastic volunteers is beyond measure. It is their commitment to our cause that enables us to provide homes for countless communities who survive disasters. Some volunteers perform the essential task of packing every single ShelterBox that leaves our warehouse in the UK whilst others assist in other departments including Operations, Training, Fundraising, Communications, Reception and Donor Admin.



Our ShelterBox aid is also delivered to communities in need by volunteers: our incredible ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) members. To become an SRT member is no easy feat and each individual has to undertake rigorous and intensive training before they are qualified to deliver emergency disaster relief. These ordinary people who do extraordinary things drop everything at a moment’s notice to head into disaster zones to assess the need and, if necessary, bring aid to communities overwhelmed by humanitarian crises. Our worldwide network of SRT members is a key component to our ability to respond rapidly to disasters.


How you can help


None of our work would be possible without the people worldwide who give generously to ShelterBox. There are countless supporters, volunteers and donors globally who make our work possible and never stop inspiring me. Day in and day out, these people make a real, tangible and lifesaving difference to the lives of people in disaster zones who have lost everything. Everyone has something to give and there are many ways you can help support ShelterBox.


Financial donations are the lifeblood of any charity and there are many other ways you can get involved with our work. Volunteering your time or applying to become an SRT member is a fantastic and hands-on way to support our work. We also have a range of ways people can make donations to us, from our legacies and grants programmes to regular giving. You can sponsor a ShelterBox and find out where in the world it has gone or you can donate to the ShelterBox Disaster Fund to help us prepare for when the next big disaster strikes. Every donation, be it of time or money, will make the difference to a person’s life.


Many thanks to Candice Demille-Knight for this interesting contribution – more pictures to follow, so watch this space!


Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  Her books are available from Amazon/Kindle worldwide or can be ordered from most leading book stores and libraries.

Posted on 01/10/2013 by Catherine
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